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Dexter and Dodd

The veteran Liverpudlian comedian Ken Dodd writes very long jokes and tells shaggy dog stories. The erudite Oxford writer Colin Dexter, crossword king and creator of 'Inspector Morse', is economic with words and concise in his chapters. Yet they are each other's greatest admirers.

Fiona Lindsay, who knows them both, had the inspired idea to bring them together for the first time. In this programme they compare notes, exchange tips - and present a double act on stage before a packed hall at this year's Cheltenham Literature Festival.

Despite having collected their bus passes some time ago, neither jokesmith Ken Dodd nor crimewriter Colin Dexter will ever retire. Still irrepressible in their 80s, the two men are amongst our most successful and busy stage entertainers, selling out their shows nightly across the UK.

Each is famously private and low key in their domestic lives, yet they continue to perfect what they are most loved for - making words work. Both are language addicts: their obsession with how words are used has endured for over half a century.

The golden thread that joins these two greats is not only their love of entertaining the public but also their keen admiration for each other's linguistic artistry.

If they could have their time over again they'd both still choose a career in words.
Colin says he would love to have been a full time stage performer like Ken, using language in the same way as music, to convey emotions. Ken says he might have been a journalist or novelist, conveying other people's stories through carefully assembled written words, as Colin does.

Fiona Lindsay is a regular presenter at literary festivals.

Producer: Chris Eldon Lee
A Culture Wise production for BBC Radio 4.

Release date:

30 minutes

Last on

Boxing Day 2011 11:00